Rule Breakers: Kelly Kristin Jones

“I never want to see another picture of ________.” Industry veterans share their pet peeves on themes in contemporary photography. In this series they present their “rule” along with five photographs that break the rule in an effort to show that great work is the exception to the rule." 


Rule Setter: Frances Jakubek, Head of Exhibitions, Bruce Silverstein Gallery
Rule Breaker: Kelly Kristin Jones

I never want to see another image dependent on Photoshop distortion. The array of tools in the program used to twist, warp, and exaggerate have made their way into many photographers’ practices. Unreal colors and perspectives shift the conversation from intention to the process used to get there. 

Just a few weeks ago at Filter Photo Festival, I met Chicago-based photographer Kelly Kristin Jones. In her effort to reclaim contested city space, Jones utilizes the semantics of Adobe’s healing brush tool to reconcile the landscape. The instrument was described to “right the wrongs of any photograph,” according to the original manual for the program. In “healing” the spaces, applying the brush (typically used for eliminating dust and minor aesthetic imperfections), she disguises the course of American history.

“Across the urban landscape, power relations camouflaged as artful monument are used instead to direct a privileged historical narrative. These markers and memorials conceal state-sanctioned abuses of power,” writes Jones, “Addressing complications of both photographic medium and national myth, I apply the automated tool to each contested monument.”

Distorted skies, ghostlike remnants, and empty sight-lines express the emotion of these spaces. The photographs have an eerie quality, fragments and digital debris of the process depict the deep wounds of the country’s history. Active debates regarding the removal of these monuments continue to mar and morph the landscape and keep a nation divided. Jones’s deliberate choice of Photoshop technique is about the language we use to progress forward but references a history of disagreement of what that progress looks like. 
—Frances Jakubek